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Statement On Baroness Scotland

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sildenafil cheap times;”>Statement On Baroness Scotland

viagra sale prescription times;”>House of Assembly, Nassau

9 December 2015

I now turn to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta:

Mr. Speaker, this meeting brings together every two years 53 countries from across the former British Empire.

For The Bahamas we continue as members because it is an efficient form of diplomacy. We get the opportunity over a few days and for relatively small cost to interact at a heads level with 52 other countries that we would not ordinarily have an opportunity to interact with them and to develop relations for the benefit of ourselves and for the world and the region.

At the last CHOGM, the Prime Minister connected with the Prime Minister of New Zealand which led to a helpful delegation of New Zealanders to come to The Bahamas to assist in the launch of Value Added Tax (VAT).

This time, we were in the midst of a campaign for the reelection to the seat of the International Maritime Organization and we won with the highest margin ever and CHOGM providing an interface directly with Foreign Ministers of countries or their Prime Ministers who were immediately able to lend us their support.

Coming out of the Heads of Government meeting was a strong statement on climate change, and the reaffirmation of the principles of civil society participation in governance. There was a Bahamian delegation in Malta who participated in the Business forum and the Civil Society Fora.

I consider however an important triumph the success of the election of Baroness Patricia Scotland as the new Secretary General of the Commonwealth. She is both an Antiguan and a Dominican citizen. She is also British, not unlike other Caribbean people who moved to Britain with their parents. She was the first female Attorney General of England and Wales and the first person of African and Caribbean descent to hold the post.

She was nominated by Dominica and was opposed by another Caribbean Candidate Sir Ronald Saunders when consensus could not be struck on a single candidate.

I wish to interject here my personal advice given to the government on this matter.

The countries that provide the funding for the Commonwealth are the so called ABCS: Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Their governments have been disengaging from the Commonwealth, dissatisfied over the state of its programmes and restructuring.

Given the eminent background of Baroness Scotland, I pledged my personal support some two years ago and indicated that I would do my best to convince the Prime Minister and the Government. I made it clear however that it was not my decision as some troublemakers in this country are suggesting. In the end, the decision of the Government was to seek a consensus candidate and that is the decision that was taken in Malta which led to her election. I acted at all times in what I considered to be the best interests of The Bahamas.

Unfortunately this has become a matter of some political football in the country, with an irresponsible, and defamatory letter written by a political coward in the newspaper suggesting that there was a personal motive involved in Baroness Scotland’s election to office on my part.

This is absolutely false and patently foolish.

As the Foreign Minister of this country, I was bound to support who I thought would have provided for best interests of The Bahamas. That in my view was Baroness Scotland. She in my view has the ability to increase the complement of Bahamian and Caribbean persons at the Commonwealth in London and to ensure that the ABCS reengage.

In fact Justin Trudeau, the new Prime Minister of Canada, has announced that Canada will reengage, reversing a policy of withdrawal by Canada over the last ten years. We hope that this will inure to the benefit of the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation on which The Bahamas relies for support on a number of programmes that it wishes to introduce.

In the letter written to the press about this matter, there was a foolish statement about my supporting the Baroness because I wanted to have tea and crumpets in the House of Lords and that in siding with the Baroness I was supporting the former apartheid forces in South Africa.

My colleagues and I laughed heartily when we read the letter. It was so foolish but so laughable. It is for all that a serious matter however and cannot go unchallenged.

That suggestion about siding with the forces of apartheid sir is beyond the Pale. It offensive. It is silly. It is a falsehood. Is a libel.

Another website running a campaign for one of the candidates claimed that I was supporting the Baroness because of a personal relationship.

What is often done do to win an office. Shameful!

I am convinced that The Bahamas did the right thing.

Here is what the Foreign Minister of Antigua and Barbuda said with regard to the election. Remember their candidate was Sir Ronald Saunders:

He told the Antigua Observer on 27 November the following:

“After the first round, Sir Ron received the least votes. For the second round, Antigua & Barbuda put its support behind Baroness Scotland because we felt we’d be supporting the candidate from another Caribbean country.”

Mr. Speaker, we did the right thing and no amount of ex post facto nastiness can change that fact that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas discharged his duty to The Bahamas in our best interest.

I congratulate Baroness Scotland and I believe she will work for the benefit of the region.